GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If you’ve been down Courthouse Road in Gulfport, chances are you’ve seen a long-time blighted property on the east side of the street.
It is a former bowling alley that was built in 1960, and it’s been shuttered since taking a beating from Hurricane Katrina, but that bowling alley may soon be rolling again.
Property owner Steve Nelson said he has been as frustrated by the lack of progress on his building as anyone who has to see it when passing by.
“I really can’t describe how frustrating it is to have paid a major, world-wide insurance company for insurance all those years and then when you need them, they bail on you," he said.
He said he gave it as much time as he could to resolve. Now, he’s footing the bill for renovations.
“After 10 years of litigation, you finally get to a point where it costs more to litigate than it does to settle," he said.
In the meantime, the building has attracted occasional trespassers and raised concerns of safety by former tenants and neighboring businesses.
Despite that, Nelson said there are no squatters, and there is security 24 hours a day.
“The building is very secure,” he said. “We have come across them trying to break in and we’ve had them arrested.”
Now that Courthouse Road is nearly finished, he’s ready to make some big changes.
“We’ve had plans, and it’s been delayed because investors and developers were waiting for the end of Courthouse Road completion,” Nelson added. “Since that time, we’ve secured a lease and an operator to come in and, in 2020, we’ll have a brand new bowling center.”
That’s not all for Courthouse Park.
“The big plan we have in place to give an exterior renovation to all the buildings to coordinate with one another," Nelson said.
He added that more tenants are coming on line now that the road is finished, such as The Sweet Shop Deli and Bakery.
On the west side of the street, Beach Buns Poolside Bar & Grill will open in the spring, and the property directly across the Courthouse will be a Southern-style restaurant.
All those developments, he said, will be in place within the next three to six months.
Nelson owns five buildings on the east side of Courthouse Road and three buildings on the west side occupying five to six acres.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am after all these years of frustration," he said.